Neuropathology is a board certified medical specialty requiring training in both clinical neurology and pathology. It is intellectually challenging and intimidates many neurologists, neurosurgeons, and pathologists. Anyone who has ever looked at a microscopic section of the brain usually had the same feeling I had when I first viewed it. It all looked the same! The pathological changes are subtle and demand a very practiced eye and ability to quickly assimilate the complex neurological signs and symptoms that may accompany the histopathological changes. With each encounter, my anxiety level was stratospheric.
Ironically, three neuropathologists greatly influenced my career choice. The first was the chair of the department of pathology who directed the pathology course during my second year of medical school. The second was a clinical professor who was chair of the department of one of the main teaching hospitals for my medical school. The third was the director of neuropathology in one of my residency programs. Because of their expertise in neuropathology, they were all amazing teachers, able to distill difficult concepts to easily understandable ideas that even a novice like myself could understand. It is no coincidence that they all practiced this relatively obscure and demanding medical specialty and I was inspired by them. What was once intimidating and anxiety provoking now became a passion and one of my favorite topics in diagnostic pathology.
My spiritual journey took a similar pathway. When I first began studying the Bible, I experienced a similar anxiety, intimidated by its immense size and dense verbiage. To complicate matters, I needed to understand Jewish history to place different events and customs within the proper context. As I began to read commentaries and other study aids, it became even more confusing. Words like grace, sanctification, propitiation-it all began to conflate and look the same. Like the first time I studied neuropathology, I was intimidated and anxious.
Thankfully, God allowed me to meet many godly brothers in Jesus Christ. Some of them were medical missionaries and only when I saw the Christian faith dynamically lived out through these faithful physicians, did I begin to understand. Words and concepts that once intimidated me became integrated within my vocabulary and thought life. My anxiety diminished as the complex theological concepts of the Bible became practical principles of Christian living and I allowed God to enlighten and console me.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Psalms 94:19 (NASB)
Like the neuropathologists and medical missionaries who demonstrated complex concepts through practical examples, I find comfort in bringing my anxiety to God. Anxiety is self-inflicted. Left to my own efforts, I will flounder and drown in my turmoil. The way to understand the difficult concepts of the Bible is through practical living by faith, always coming to the Cross and humbling myself before my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.